Going through chemotherapy is a difficult process that ravages patient’s bodies and their mental health. They’ll need support from friends and family to get them through such a tough time.
Do you know someone who is getting treatment for a cancer diagnosis? It is hard knowing what to say and how to help. If you aren’t sure how to help, there are ways to support a friend going through chemo.
Remember, you can’t help anyone until you’re OK. Hearing that someone you love has cancer is devastating news. After learning about the diagnosis, take time to check in with your emotions and cope before seeing your friend. Preparing yourself can involve learning about the diagnosis and the ways chemotherapy will affect them.
Are you unsure what to say to them? Start with emphasizing with them. If you’ve never been diagnosed with a severe illness, this might seem impossible, but it isn’t. Think back to a time when you were sick or going through a rough patch in your life. What did you need then? What do you think they might need from you now?
When you’re ready to help your friend, you might also wonder the best way to give them both emotional and physical support. You can show support in a myriad of ways:
- Ask your friend if they need help before doing it—this also includes visiting. Let them know that saying no is OK.
- Making plans with them is a great way to give them something to look forward to in the future.
- Don’t always talk about their cancer and treatment. It’s OK to laugh! Tell stories and lift them when they’re feeling nauseous and fatigued.
- There is room for negative emotions, too. Listen to them when they’re sad and angry about their illness. They need someone to vent to, and it’s valid.
- Even if you can’t be there physically, check-in periodically through texts, phone calls, or emails.
You can also help them with personal things, like helping them find a wig when they experience hair loss.
Are you searching for something to get your friend? If it’s for a close friend, something silly is excellent, but for a co-worker or neighbor, they might appreciate something more universal:
- Crossword, Sudoku, or jigsaw puzzles
- A card with a nice message
- Gift certificates for a favorite restaurant, massage, or another way to help them relax
- Housecleaning service
- Crafts like scrapbooking or a paint-by-number to keep them occupied
No matter how you choose to help your friend, treat them the same way that you always have! Reminding them of normalcy is one of the most important ways to support a friend going through chemo.